Metro Weekly

Holiday Cocktails: 4 Festive Drinks from chef Jonathan Bardzik

Make Christmas merry with Jonathan Bardzik's white cosmo, lychee martini, black tea punch, and chile hot chocolate.

To help usher in the holiday season, we asked Jonathan Bardzik — whose informative and entertaining cooking show Seasons to Taste debuted on the streamer Revry earlier this year — to concoct a special holiday meal. One that pays tribute to the season, but one that’s also scalable. Something that could feed dozens, as well as more intimate parties of four, two, or even one.

Alongside his glazed beets starter, reverse-seared steak main, and stunning poached pear dessert (get the full recipes here), Bardzik has crafted four beautifully festive drinks, offering everything from a lighter cosmopolitan, to a floral martini (with a zero-proof option), to a spicy hot chocolate sure to warm on cold wintry nights.

White Cosmo

Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

Pink or white cranberry juice lightens the flavor of this classic cocktail while using Elderflower liqueur instead of triple sec adds delicate, floral notes. A garnish of sugared cranberries over a Champagne coupe delivers a delightful presentation.

For cranberries

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • For cocktail
  • 6 oz infused lemon vodka like Absolut Citron
  • 6 oz blush or white cranberry juice
  • 2 oz Elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain
  • 1 vertical half lemon cut into 4 wedges

Directions

Make sugared cranberries: Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries and simmer for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a wire cooling rack and cool until tacky, about 30 minutes. Roll in remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

Make cocktails: Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into 4 Champagne coupes and squeeze a lemon wedge into each drink. Thread 3 cranberries on a skewer to garnish each glass.

Cardamom Ginger Liqueur Lychee Vodka Martini (with Zero Proof Alternative)

Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

This is the drink I wooed my husband with when we were first dating. Tropical without being fruity and sugary, it’s a delightful light moment in a season of heavier bourbon and rum cocktails. The zero-proof version provides all the flavor without alcohol for anyone deciding not to imbibe, whether it is for a lifetime or just that night.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4 oz infused lemon vodka like Absolut Citron
  • 4 oz ginger liqueur like Canton
  • 1 cup juice from can of lychees
  • 4 dashes cardamom bitters
  • 4 canned lychee fruit

Directions

Make cardamom simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cardamom pods with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cardamom pods infuse syrup for an additional 10 minutes and strain.

Combine all ingredients except lychee fruit in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into 4 martini glasses. Serve with a lychee fruit in each glass.


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Zero proof alternative

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 1/4″ thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 cup good quality ginger ale, like Fever Tree
  • 1 cup juice from can of lychees
  • 4 dashes cardamom bitters
  • 4 canned lychee fruit

Directions

Make cardamom ginger simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, ginger, and cardamom pods with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cardamom pods infuse syrup for an additional 10 minutes and strain.

Combine all ingredients except lychee fruit in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into 4 martini glasses. Serve with a lychee fruit in each glass.

[Bored with turkey? Check out Jonathan Bardzik’s festive three-course menu here!]

Black Tea Lime Rum Punch

Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

I think of this classic punch as the original Red Bull and vodka. Strong tea for caffeine with an equal amount of rum makes for a strong, easy-drinking punch. Consider starting with 1 cup rum and adding to taste.

Ingredients

  • 3 black tea bags like English Breakfast or Earl Grey
  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups aged rum

Directions

Make tea: bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 3 tea bags and steep for 10 minutes. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature. Whisk in lime juice and rum and refrigerate until cold. Serve up or over ice.

TIP: This easily scales for a crowd. If filling a punch bowl, add the lime juice to the tea, fill a pint container with this mixture, and freeze overnight. Add the rum to the remaining tea before serving and float the tea ice in the punch bowl. This prevents plain ice from watering down your punch.

Cinnamon Chile Hot Chocolate with Honey Whipped Cream (Zero Proof)

Photo: Todd Franson

Serves 4

This Mayan-inspired hot chocolate gains spiced depth from cinnamon and vanilla and a pleasant grown-up heat from infusing the milk with a dried chile. Earthy, floral honey adds layers of flavors that make this anything but an ordinary cup of cocoa.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 dried Arbol chile
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 Tbsp honey

Directions

Infuse milk: Warm milk, sugar, chiles, and cinnamon together in a 2-quart saucepan placed over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. When bubbles appear around the edge of the pot, reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, to infuse for 15 minutes longer. Remove chile and cinnamon sticks.

Make hot chocolate: In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the infused milk, and whisk until smooth, eliminating lumps. Add cocoa mixture and vanilla to remaining milk in saucepan. Whisk to combine. Warm over medium heat.

Whip cream: Whisk cream to soft peaks. Add honey and whisk through to stiff peaks. Serve hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.

A storyteller, cook, and author based in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Bardzik seeks to create joy and share connections, which he has brought to more than 900 audiences ranging from local farmers markets to corporate teams and the TedX stage. The food he cooks to bring people together is inspired by the fresh ingredients he grew up with from his parents’ garden and finds today at local farmers’ markets.

Jonathan’s new 8-episode series Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons to Taste is available on-demand on Revry anywhere you stream TV. Visit www.revry.tv.

Jonathan’s three cookbooks — including his newest, Simple Summer: A Recipe for Joy and Connection —- are available on his website, where you will regularly find new recipes on his storytelling and cooking blog. Visit www.JonathanBardzik.com.

Follow Jonathan’s daily cooking adventures on Instagram at @JonathanBardzik.

Read our May 2021 cover interview with Jonathan here.

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